Monday, October 01, 2007

Building core site functionality with widgets

Whilst the first generation of web widgets tended to be created in the image of their desktop-bound forefathers (taking a data source and providing a discrete application such as stock quotes, weather forecasts or simple games), the current crop of widgets increasingly integrate with the sites they live on and often mimic traditional site functionality. Want visitors to your site to be able to rate content? Get a widget from Spotback. How about comments? Grab the embed code from coComment. Real time traffic data? You'll be wanting Feedjit (or maybe Recommendations? Minekey should do the trick. Your own scoped search engine? Rollyo can oblige. Tags? Try Jiglu (recently added to right-hand column of this blog). What's exciting about this trend is that it further lowers the bar for online content creators who can now add Web 2.0 functionality without having to learn a single line of code. Of course it's not entirely risk-free; in installing such widgets you are effectively surrendering control of that functionality and potentially a whole stack of data about your users, to a third party who may subsequently go out of business or sell that data on. Still, no such thing as a free lunch, eh?

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